Week two’s Wednesday was packed with big moments. Remarkable wins. Epic collapses. Experience gained. Opportunities earned. Overheads lost. How appropriate that we capped the night on Stadium-2 with one of Yogi Berra’s ultimate grains of truth: Even down SEVEN match points…it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
18-year-old Alexander Zverev was the first to exemplify Yogi’s wisdom on Wednesday over on Stadium-1. Up 5-4 on Rafael Nadal, serving for the set, match point: Alex dumped his easiest volley of the day into the net. Rafa didn’t give him any more chances. Nadal earned the break, leveled the set, then blanked the German the rest of the way. Final for Nadal: 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5. That stings. But this is Rafa – the greatest fighter of all time. It will be interesting to witness the mental impact this match will have on Zverev, who lit it up this week at Indian Wells, earning fans even among tennis’ top talent.
Sascha can take comfort in knowing his wasn’t the most epic collapse of the day. Bob and Mike Bryan simply needed one point to win. Up seven match-points (9-2) in the match tie-break with Nenad Zimonjic and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The moment was huge. The crowd was amped. The brothers have made a career out of crushing anxiety and closing with confidence…but for some reason, Wednesday night was different. Both Bob and Mike were tight on serve. Nenad and Edouard erased all seven match points, and then an eighth, earning a spot in the Semfinals, winning 14-12 in the match tie-break. Truly remarkable.
Serena Williams didn’t disappoint, easily dispatching defending champion Simona Halep to reach the Semifinals. Agnieszka Radwanska polished off Petra Kvitova in a second-set tie-break. With the win, Radwanska will return to a career-high ranking of #2 in the world come Monday. Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga both earned wins and will face each other in the Quarters, as did Marin Cilic with a 3-set win over Richard Gasquet.
The other Round of 16 matches took place in our house on Stadium-2, and fans got their money’s worth Wednesday…
DAVID GOFFIN. Round of 16.
Stan Wawrinka was an absolute mess for the first 45-minutes of this one. He was down a set and 0-4, when he finally smashed a racquet and snapped to. It actually turned into one of the most competitive, remarkable sets of the tournament. Wawrinka broke Goffin twice to reach 3-4, screaming COME ON! with a huge pass up the line. Goffin would then break and serve for the match – but he couldn’t close. Stan won the next four games to force a decider. Up 5-3, Goffin served for the match again…but Stan broke back and both held through to the tie-break. Goffin eventually took it 7-5 in the tiebreak, thanks in part to a missed overhead from Wawrinka. Goffin knows – with two missed chances to serve it out – he’ll have to do better moving forward. FINAL: 63 57 76(5)
NEXT: Marin Cilic. David is already in Marin’s head. 11 days ago, Goffin defeated Marin in Davis Cup play to keep Belgium’s Tie alive vs. Croatia 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. While Belgium ultimately fell to Croatia, Goffin was unbeatable in Liege, also delivering a win over Borna Coric in his first rubber of the weekend.
MILOS RAONIC. Round of 16.
This was a comfortable win for Milos Raonic over the World #7. When healthy, he’s always played well against Berdych and now owns a 4-2 record against Tomas. In the first, Milos delivered a timely break to go up 5-4, then served it out. In the second, serving 5-6, Tomas earned a set-point. Milos erased it with an unreturnable “change-up” at only 116-mph. Great tactic from the hard-serving Canadian who tops the serve-speed ladder with a 145-mph missile this week. Raonic advanced to the Quarterfinals with a 9-7 win in the tiebreak, thanks in part to a missed overhead from Berdych (a theme on Wednesday). FINAL: 64 76(7)
NEXT: Gael Monfils. A rematch of their clash in the Australian Open Quarterfianls. Milos won it 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
GAEL MONFILS. Round of 16.
Finally, good fortune for Gael Monfils at Indian Wells. He’s never made it deep into the second week, but thanks to a favorable draw and Andy Murray’s early departure, he’s into the Quarterfinals for the first time. Gael took-out Murray’s spoiler, Federico Delbonis on Wednesday 6-3, 6-4…and actually attempted a “full-frontal tweener” during the match on a rocketed Delbonis forehand. While he missed the shot, Monfils admits it wasn’t the wisest decision considering how balls can leap off the surface here. No one wants to see the trainer called to court for that…
NEXT: Milos Raonic. A rematch of their clash in the Australian Open Quarterfianls. Monfils fell 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6.
KEI NISHIKORI. Round of 16.
Honestly, this was a hell of a match from Kei Nishikori. Isner was on-point from the start, not only serving lights-out, but returning with ease. In a blink, Nishikori was down a set 1-6. He had zero opportunity against John in the second, but somehow managed to dominate the tie-break 7-2. The third was a repeat of set-2, Kei’s only chance coming in the tie-break, and he delivered the win…FINAL: 16 76(2) 76(5).
NEXT: Rafael Nadal. Rafa may own their head-to-head (7-1), but Kei quickly punted Rafa from the Canadian Masters event last Summer in the Quarterfinals 6-2, 6-4. If he can survive 22 aces from Isner and find a way to convert, surely he can find a way to handle Rafa’s kick and spin on this slower, gritty surface. Or can he?
ROGER-VASSELIN & ZIMONJIC. Quarterfinals.
Bob and Mike Bryan simply needed one point to win. Up seven match-points (9-2) in the match tie-break with Nenad Zimonjic and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The moment was huge. The crowd was amped. The brothers have made a career out of crushing anxiety and closing with confidence…but for some reason, Wednesday night was different. Both Bob and Mike were tight on serve. Nenad and Edouard erased all seven match points, and then an eighth, earning a spot in the Semfinals, winning 14-12 in the match tie-break. Remarkable match. FINAL: 4-6, 6-1, 14-12
NEXT: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Edouard Roger-Vasselin: “Three Frenchmen on the court, we all know each other quite well…It’ll be a good fight. It’ll be my first time on Stadium 1 so I’ll look forward to that.”
RESULTS. BNP Paribas Open 2016. Day Ten. Quarterfinal WTA Singles.
-  S. Williams (USA) d  S. Halep (ROU) 64 63
-  A. Radwanska (POL) d  P. Kvitova (CZE) 62 76(3)
RESULTS. BNP Paribas Open 2016. Day Ten. Round of 16 ATP Singles.
-  N. Djokovic (SRB) d  F. Lopez (ESP) 63 63
-  D. Goffin (BEL) d  S. Wawrinka (SUI) 63 57 76(5)
-  R. Nadal (ESP) d A. Zverev (GER) 67(8) 60 75
-  K. Nishikori (JPN) d  J. Isner (USA) 16 76(2) 76(5)
-  M. Raonic (CAN) d  T. Berdych (CZE) 64 76(7)
-  J. Tsonga (FRA) d  D. Thiem (AUT) 63 62
-  M. Cilic (CRO) d  R. Gasquet (FRA) 75 57 62
-  G. Monfils (FRA) d F. Delbonis (ARG) 63 64
RESULTS. BNP Paribas Open 2016. Day Ten. Quarterfinal WTA Doubles.
- S. Errani (ITA) / O. Kalashnikova (GEO) d  A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 36 63 10-5
- J. Goerges (GER) / K. Pliskova (CZE) d [PR] V. King (USA) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) 64 63
RESULTS. BNP Paribas Open 2016. Day Ten. Quarterfinal ATP Doubles.
-  E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) d  B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) 46 61 14-12
-  P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d [Alt] J. Chardy (FRA) / F. Martin (FRA) 61 75